Today is a special day at Rumbly Cottage. Let me welcome all first time visitors and returning guests to the second stop of a Chick Lit Plus blog tour featuring Mari Mancusi, author of the new Chick Lit novel Love at 11.
The story focuses on 27-year-old Maddie, a producer at a local TV station. Life is plodding along as she tries to develop a clip file that will allow her to move on to serious television news magazine.
In the meantime, she gets a little promotion and a new camera man – the ultra hunky, Jamie. They both like 80s pop culture and have the same wicked sense of humor. They would be perfect for each other if it wasn’t for his fiancée. If that isn’t bad enough, Maddie’s parents’ marriage is breaking up, and her 16-year-old sister is a bit a hellion.
Then Maddie gets a hot tip regarding tunnels on the other side of the border while shopping for fake Prada in Tijuana. Things are about to get interesting for our heroine who has been bored and plagued by bad story ideas for too long.
So that is the teaser to this fun book. Let’s take a few minutes to sit in the dining room and chat. You might be disturbed by the sounds of the violent video game my son is playing in the living room but ignore that. This is, after all, a house that can be a bit noisy on a regular basis. Oh, and don’t worry about the dog. He only gets super friendly when he wants to steal snack food.
Instead, pay attention to the interview we have with author Mari Mancusi. First, take a quick look at her bio.
Mari Mancusi is a multiple Emmy award-winning television producer and
author of novels for adults and teens, including the Blood Coven series and
Gamer Girl. She’s worked at television stations in New York, Boston, San
Diego, and Orlando and is a graduate of Boston University’s College of
Communications. When not writing or producing, she enjoys traveling,
cooking, 80s music, and her favorite guilty pleasure—videogames. She lives
in Austin, Texas with her husband, Jacob, and their daughter, Avalon.
Now on to the questions and answers.
You have been writing Young Adult novels for some time, how hard was it to make the transition to writing a novel for adults?
I actually started my career writing chick lit time travel novels for an adult audience, so Love at 11 was a return to my roots, so to speak. And this particular book’s subject matter was so close to my heart, I guess I was just writing for me. Perhaps that’s the biggest key—to write the book your own self would want to read. When I write teen books – I consider the old high school “me” and when I write adult books, I think about the “me” now and write accordingly.
There is nothing supernatural in this book. Was that element ever in the plans for this novel?
Nope! The story came about on a day I was assigned the “cosmetics that kill” story at my Boston station. I was so fed up and frustrated—it just came pouring out of me.
How tempting was it to make the little sister’s story the focus of this book?
Lulu’s story just kind of took on a life of its own as I was writing the book. It’s perhaps the one part of the book that’s not at least semi-autobiographical. I would love to do a spin-off about her someday. She’s troubled—very troubled—but she has a big heart.
You worked as a producer in television? Was your life goal similar to Maddy’s to work at a high profile news magazine?
Yes, I was determined at one point to work at Dateline. I thought it would be the ultimate dream job. I did end up going to work at a nationally syndicated television magazine show, but it was a morning show, so much lighter in content. Still, it was pretty great to be out and about in NYC interviewing celebs, fashion designers, chefs, etc. The problem with working for a show like Dateline, however, is you have to be willing to dedicate your entire life to your career. Now that I’m a mom I have other priorities and like the fact I can work from home as an author.
Besides the romance, your story focuses on a professional trying to create meaningful work at her TV station. Do you think that is a pertinent topic for 20 somethings who have been at their workplace for some years?
Absolutely. I think now, more than ever, twenty-somethings are looking for satisfaction and personal fulfillment in the workplace. They don’t just want a 9-5 that provides a paycheck. They want to make a difference or be creative or impact something. And that can be hard to do and extremely frustrating when you’re first starting out and have no power. I remember having this burning desire to do more and be pushed down by my bosses time and time again.
The lead anchor makes an interesting commentary towards the end of the book, leading Maddy to understand and respect him more. In your experience, is this true for many anchors?
Very true. In our current society, anchors like the legendary Edward R Murrow would never be hired and TV news is always looking for the next pretty face. I actually see this more in female anchors and reporters who are considered “old” once they hit thirty, but I used a male anchor in the book because I wanted to shake up the stereotype a bit. But definitely—talent takes a back seat to a svelte figure and pretty face.
You are located in Texas but the book is set in San Diego. How much research did you do to understand where Maddy and her friend might go for fun? To know where Jaime and Maddy would go to find the drug cave or to happen on the Rave?
Ha! I lived in San Diego for three years, working in TV news when I was Maddy’s age. So I knew all the cool hangouts and local culture already. (And even attended a desert rave or two.) The drug tunnels are something I plucked from the headlines—they really exist! And I spent a ton of time drinking margaritas and shopping for fake purses in Tijuana. Who knew it was all research for a book! That said, the TV station I worked for in San Diego was nothing like News 9. They were actually pretty respectable. It was more the station I worked in later, in Boston, that inspired most of the ridiculous stories mentioned in the book.
How is it that Maddy is familiar with music and movies from the 80s?
Her parents showed her Pretty in Pink when she was a kid and it all spiraled from there!
Could Jaime be any more perfect as guy? Does he have a flaw besides having ‘farewell sex’ when he breaks up with a girlfriend?
I think what Jamie most lacks is self-confidence in himself. He’s failed a lot – being a filmmaker in LA to being reduced to a videographer for the local news. Not to mention his failed sci-fi novel. And I think that’s affected how he looks at himself and the world. He also is so nice he gets himself stuck in situations he might not be happy about. He knows he and his fiancé just aren’t working—but it’s difficult for him to make the break and go after what he really wants in life.
Thanks, Mari, for stopping by and chatting with at the cottage. Don’t worry about the dishes and cups; I will clean everything up.
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